Incidents 1962-1965

This letter is unlike any of Jim’s previous letters. He spent hours thinking about what he wanted to say, crafting the story long before putting paper in the typewriter. It’s infrequent to see a sentence fragment. Today’s letter is full of fragments. Most importantly, it’s full of thought fragments, any one of which could make a whole story. As I read through the letter it reminded me of so many fun activities and events. My mind immediately went to the photo albums which have pictures for almost every sentence fragment below. One of the first memories he recalls is of the analyst magazine that Mike B and I published for several months. There’s already a lengthy story about that one available.

Cal's Office Supplu Delivery van

Cal’s Office Supply Delivery van

The first phrase that really triggers the memories is about Cal’s Office Supply. There were two office supply stores in town, and one of them didn’t get my business. (There was a story about those pennies a couple of months ago.) I met Jim at Cal’s when I was looking for paper for the analyst. Jim was usually on the road for Cal, delivering and picking up office machines from all over the area. The typewriters, adding and accounting machines fascinated me! Better than that, he got to drive a Ford Econoline van. What a piece of work that was.

On a side note, the Buffalo City Grille now occupies the space where Cal’s was in the late sixties. It’s our favorite restaurant in Jamestown.

Gene at Jim's apartment

Gene at Jim’s apartment

Gene Kurtz ran the repair shop. He could fix any of those mechanical monstrosities. He loved fun, drinking, fast cars, and practical jokes. He could tell you more stories than either Jim or I could, including ones about bullheads and his 1958 Ford Thunderbird. His obituary on the web even mentions both Cal’s Office Supply and practical jokes. One of his most irritating practical jokes involved snapshots. In the sixties it took at least a week, sometimes months to use up a roll of film and have it processed at the local drug store (White’s) or photography studio (King’s). By the time you got the pictures, you realized that in just about every picture of Gene he had managed to sneak in a quick finger.

Guy with the 1952 Cadillac in 1965. Probably at Lake Metigoshe.

Guy with the 1952 Cadillac in 1965. Probably at Lake Metigoshe.

Jim loved to camp. In style. No tents for him, he wanted a camper. He was an Airstream fan, but without the cash to buy a real one. He had a tiny, two-wheeled outfit that barely fit two people with gear. The back side had a hatchback that opened into a galley that would have been big on a boat or airplane. Given his history of Navy and Air Force, that was appropriate. We had a lot of fun in that little camper, even if it did rain just about every weekend we were out. It towed nicely behind his 1952 Cadillac coupé.

The second half of the letter describes his experience with the Air Force Reserve.

Jim writes:

Incidents 1962-1965

Between the above dates occurred events that I will always remember: Leaving Sears employment … a do nothing summer off … the Air Force Reserve … joining the staff of Cal’s office Supply as a salesman … my friendship with Gene Kurtz and Cal’s repairman … and in the latter days of 1963 meeting Guy William Havelick, founder and co-editor of the “Analyst” … a prestigious publication of scientific and intellectual depth! Purchasing the black 1952 Cadillac coupe DeVille from Lake Motors in Devils Lake … (traded in 1960 Opel Rekord 2 door sedan) … friendship with Guy was growing … during the year of 1964 we shared many activities … Guy was learning to drive and many Saturday and Sundays were spent driving to Valley City, Binford, Kathryn, Spiritwood, and the surrounding areas … Sundays … making breakfast for us at 406 1st Ave north then Guy off to church … evenings listening to “Herman’s Hermits” and eating popcorn!

This was also the year that we made many camping trips in the little, leaky, two wheel trailer … the winter we cut, measured the custom built canopy for the trailer and used once at Lake Meticoshe during one of the frequent rain squalls we endured … “the clouds were always breaking up” or so we hoped! Continue reading

9523rd AFRES

Jim at a Veteran's Day event in the early 2000's

Jim at a Veteran’s Day event in the early 2000’s

When I first met Jim he was an active member of the Jamestown unit of the Air Force Recovery Squadron. One weekend a month he had to spend the entire weekend at the airport doing something with a bunch of airplanes and military men. Then, to top it off, they went to somewhere exotic, like Rapid City, South Dakota, every year for two weeks for extended training. I didn’t understand why he was spending all that time with the Air Force.

This and the next couple of letters describe the second half of Jim’s military career. It’s a long and involved story that deserves the three letters he invests in it. He was adamant about getting his time in, making up weekends when he couldn’t get to the scheduled one, even when they moved to Fargo, a hundred miles away. I just didn’t understand how he could give up a weekend of camping and fun to run off to the airport so often.

The other thing I didn’t understand is how much he was teaching me by example. He had a goal in mind, a goal that was years in the making. I was only a teenager when I learned about his dedication to the Air Force Reserve so the idea of investing in a goal for something thirty years out was impossible for me to imagine. In fact, as I aged it became clear that my past limited my view of the future. I don’t recall exactly when I figured it out, but at age twenty I could only see twenty years into the future. Retirement was beyond my comprehension. Now that I’ve reached retirement age, the future is all too clear.

Jim could see far enough to know that retirement would be something to plan for. Between his military retirement and Tri-Care military medical insurance his decision in 1962 allowed him to live the last years of his life in relative comfort and plenty.

Jim writes:

After spending ten years in the Navy and all those years spent on different types of ships at sea it was a startling change of military careers when I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in August of 1962.

Being completely landlocked in the midwest didn’t offer much in the way of advancement and training in a Naval career field. At this time there was a small Naval Reserve unit headquartered in Fargo on the NDSU campus. It wasn’t very active and had little to offer. Thru a friend in Jamestown, Dave Robertson (of AAU fame!) I learned that there was an Air Force Reserve Unit right here under my nose and I wasn’t even aware of it! Continue reading